thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Great Performances

By on February 18, 2009

When you go out to a show or another event, you expect a great performance. What makes you think your customers don't expect that from you every day?

My wife and I enjoyed a 7-day cruise recently. Part of the entertainment consisted of performances by the Second City Comedy Group. In addition to rehearsed sketches, they also did "improv" or improvisational comedy. In addition, there was a workshop in which the performers answered questions from the audience.

When asked about how they handle topics from the audience that they hear on a regular basis, one of the performers said, "We try to do our improv differently every time." He knew that was what the audience comes to see-originality-and to be entertained. Even though it would be very easy to repeat jokes or scenarios that have worked successfully in the past, the same cast member said, "I feel dirty if I don't deliver new material." His conscience made him feel that he would be letting the audience (his customers) down if he were not giving his best.

Contrast the attitude that Second City had with another recent experience that we had at the House of Seven Gables historical site in Salem, MA. We were given a tour guide who was very knowledgeable but although it was informative, it was lackluster. It was the last tour of the day. He was ready to go home. He covered the highlights but a little too quickly. He showed us a take-apart model of the house to illustrate where the gables had been added to correspond with the novel. He was saying the words, but not connecting with his audience to confirm understanding.

He had done this tour probably hundreds of times, but, then, Second City had undoubtedly performed their sketches almost as frequently and that didn't seem to dampen their performance. The tour guide, unfortunately, had allowed his speech to become too routine and he didn't care very much about his audience. He was going through the motions. He was not thinking like a customer.

We are all performers in our jobs and, although we may not be in the entertainment industry, we still must approach the work with the willingness to give everything for the customer. Look at your results by how it will be judged by these customers. Give good value every time, determined from the customer's viewpoint. It is not about awards or selfish motives. It is cultural and infectious. It is built off of the sense of accomplishment when the employees in your organization will not accept anything less than their best.

Every time you "perform" (i.e. do your jobs) you will be successful if you think like your customers. Try to be fresh, creative and different from the last time you connected with them. Give them an extraordinary experience. After all, that is what customers appreciate. That is what they will remember and talk about. Be mindful of the outcomes that customers value and stretch your performance parameters. You will discover techniques that you did not know were possible.

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